Bamboo Shoots In Spring Tea Party ($5) Feb. 3, from 2 to 6 p.m., and Concerts ($30) Feb. 16 at 3 and 7 p.m., presented by the B.C. Chinese Music Association, at CBC Studios, 700 Hamilton St., Vancouver. Info: bccma.net.
? War, Love and Loss, Feb. 11 at 7: 30 p.m. at the Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre, 950 West 41st Ave., Vancouver, presented by the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra with the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, part of the Chutzpah! Festival. Tickets: $27/$23/$18, visit vi-co.org or chutzpahfestival.com.
COMPOSER Mark Armanini couldn't have asked for a better muse than the rich multicultural fabric of his native Lower Mainland.
Long seeing the value in melding the music and instruments of different ethnic groups, he has worked to connect cultures, players and audiences through his vast and impressive array of original compositions and arrangements for more than two decades.
"It's something about the contemporary world that we are getting closer and closer to other cultures and we have more and more contact with them . . . In the Greater Vancouver region we have a very unique chance to develop this kind of music because it doesn't really exist anywhere else," says Armanini, who grew up in Lynn Valley though now calls Vancouver home.
In addition to his work as an instructor in Capilano University's music department, Armanini holds two creative roles with local arts organizations that are charting new territory in terms of their respective approaches to music and culture - the B.C. Chinese Music Ensemble and the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra.
The perspectives of both groups are being highlighted at two upcoming engagements, one of which is marking the Chinese New Year and a second that's a featured event of the 2013 edition of the Chutzpah! Festival. Armanini has a number of works on both programs, including two world premieres.
Armanini has served as producer of the B.C. Chinese Music Ensemble since 2008.
"My job as producer is to try and introduce
the Chinese instruments and their music to a wider Western audience," he says.
The ensemble is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year and in celebration of the milestone and the Chinese New Year of the Snake, its parent organization, the B.C. Chinese Music Association, the largest Chinese music organization in North America, is presenting the Bamboo Shoots In Spring Tea Party and Concerts.
The Tea Party is being held Feb. 3, from 2 to 6 p.m. at the downtown CBC Studios.
"It's a way to try to replicate the tea house atmosphere where people can be casual and chat and enjoy the music," says Armanini.
Ensemble members will be featured at that and two subsequent concerts, also at CBC Studios, Feb. 16 at 3 and 7 p.m.
"These are all the teachers and all the best soloists from the area and they combine to make this professional ensemble," he says.
Armanini has a number of works on the Feb. 16 program, including "Early Spring by the Han River," an orchestration of a traditional piece for solo suona (a cross between a trumpet and an oboe) that he reworked for a small orchestra. Other featured pieces include "Dragon Boat," highlighting the lute-like pipa and "Dragon Dogs," a composition by local players Mei Han and Randy Raine-Reusch that he orchestrated.
The concerts will be recorded for release as an album this fall. Armanini is also set to unveil a new work through his role as co-artistic director of the Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra at War, Love and Loss, a concert of new works presented by the group and the Pacific Baroque Orchestra, Feb. 11 at 7: 30 p.m. at the Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre.
"This is a very unique type of orchestra where we have Western strings, and some Western instruments but also we have Iranian, Chinese and Japanese instruments all playing together," he says.
Armanini's premiere, "Night Moon," is based on poetry from China's Tang era, which will be recited as part of the performance, which will also include music from the Ming Dynasty.
The orchestra is also presenting: Music of the Whole World: Strings Without Borders, Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. at the Vancouver Public Library Central Branch; and a workshop at Capilano University (entitled Vancouver Inter-Cultural Orchestra In the Schools, Capilano University Edition 2013: Intercultural Music Making in Contemporary Society). The four-session series, leading up to a public performance next month, offers participants a hands-on opportunity to learn about the art of composing intercultural music and kicks off with an introductory session at Capilano University tomorrow, Feb. 2, at 2 p.m. Both initiatives are free.